Hello, Nick Ponte here.
I’m a small business owner in Maui. I love to help other businesses in Maui and Hawaii succeed. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I watched so many businesses struggle to replace lost foot traffic and revenue. Now, as things slowly but surely reopen, I want to help the businesses around me come back stronger than ever.
A huge part of this means helping them succeed in the digital economy. If (God forbid) things shut down again, Hawaii businesses that adopt e-commerce now will have the edge over those that don’t. Plus, even with no emergency, businesses who engage digitally will still get their products in front of exponentially more customers.
To help businesses go digital, I help them move online, develop a web presence, and rank higher on search engines like Google.
Every year, Google hosts a conference for web developers and SEO junkies called Google I/O. The I/O part stands for input/output, a classical computing term… but it also stands for Innovation in the Open. Google I/O is one of the best places to hear about the moves Google has made recently as well as the direction they’re going in the near future.
Early this year, we talked about Google’s latest core algorithm update and what it meant for Hawaii businesses. We talked about how long-form, authoritative and helpful content will help your business online.
Google’s I/O conference last month confirmed that. It also gave a few new takeaways that will help Maui businesses get the edge in SEO for Google.
Why Google? Why SEO?
You may wonder why I seem to focus so much on Google and SEO. Let me break it down for you:
Google is the leading search engine in the United States, and nobody else comes close. They have about 89% of the market share for search engines in the U.S., and their closest competitor Bing only has 5%. 9 out of 10 searches by users in the U.S. happen on Google.
Most consumers start with a simple Google search when they want to find a business. Even if they are looking for a specific business, they will still search its name on Google rather than type in its website manually. They do this on the desktop and their smartphones.
This means that the “front page” of Google, the first 8-12 results of any search, gain much more exposure than everyone else. 85% of searchers stop looking after the first page of results.
So, ranking high on Google searches, especially on the first page of searches relevant to your business, will make your website’s traffic multiply. The more traffic you have, the more people will come to your shop or visit your e-commerce store. So, ranking high on Google will lead to more revenue for you. Plus, nailing Google SEO will help your rank for other engines like Bing and Yahoo.
As a bonus, following SEO best practices make your site friendlier and navigable for potential customers.
This all reminds me of a story I learned about Mark Cuban, the billionaire businessman. When he first began attending business meetings after college, he was shocked. He would talk about the things he was reading and expected people to say, “Oh yeah, I’ve read that…” but nobody did. It seemed like nobody was reading or learning.
So, if you are one of the business leaders who do the hard work of reading and learning, you will excel far past your competition. Things that seem obvious to you will sound like a foreign language to them. The same goes for SEO. You can do this!
Three Key SEO Moves for Right Now
Given what we’ve learned about Google so far this year, here are three ways for you to take action to rank higher and gain more customers.
- Build Up Your Web Presence
First, if you haven’t already, invest in your web presence. This is a combination of your website, social media, and business listings. If you don’t have a website yet, view this guide. If you do, but you’d like to expand into social media, then click here.
However, most business owners reading this will have a website and at least a Facebook page. The next step is to get your own certified business listing with Google My Business. This will enable your business’ info panel to show up on the results page when people search for you. It will let searchers know your business is verified. It also makes it easier for people to contact you.
Besides helping those who see your listing become customers, it also helps your business’ performance in searches. As you fill in the relevant data, it makes it easier for Google to understand what your business is and have it appear in certain searches.
- Focus On Page Experience
During the conference last month, Google talked about the importance of Page Experience (PX). Think of PX as the experience a user has, whether on mobile or desktop when scrolling through your site’s pages.
Google’s engine is getting better at detecting when websites will have poor PX and adjust their score accordingly.
Here are a few ways to improve your PX:
- Reduce the load time of your pages. The fastest way to do this is to remove really large video content and link to it externally. Also, check on the file size of the images and see if they can be compressed at all. Generally speaking, a page with a few decent-quality images and mostly text will load quickly.
- Eliminate user annoyance. If multiple things pop up when a user reaches your page, all competing for their attention, they will get annoyed. Google can detect when your page has too many interfering elements.
- Ensure mobile-friendliness. Look at your website using both a desktop and a mobile phone. Make sure nothing gets lost in translation when someone views your site through a smartphone. Most web platforms enable you to use a “mobile preview” when building a page, but it always helps to look on an actual mobile device.
- Take Care of the “Crawlables”
To assign a ranking to the pages on your website, Google actually “crawls” the pages. Imagine a robot reading through your website and assigning a grade or score to each page, and you’ll be somewhat close to reality.
Google looks at several machine-readable elements of your page, which are usually HTML code not immediately visible to a regular user.
The level you can take care of the crawlables depends on your level of expertise and comfort with the technical side of SEO. For starters, consider using a web platform like WordPress for your website, because they do so much of this automatically.
Next, make sure the headers and header tags on your pages match the sort of words that people search for when they look for a business like yours. Additionally, make sure the names of your pages match their content, because this will affect the information that appears in the URL bar, which is also crawled.
If you’re curious about exploring this further, Google has released its crawling playbook for free.
If you want help with your SEO, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!
Further Reading: SEO On-Page Optimization